I'm currently reading a truly fascinating non-fiction book, 'Between Man and Beast: An unlikely explorer, The evolution debate, And the African adventure that took the Victorian world by storm'. Penned by Monte Reel, I first picked up this book at Chapters, minutes before seeing the Lego movie. Distracted by the sheer awesomeness of said movie, and the two other books I purchased that day, this one hid out under a pile of laundry for a couple weeks. (yes it is possible in my apartment to have a pile of laundry stay in one place for that long... ah well).
Getting to the point, I picked up the book to start reading it today and it is thus far epic. Following the story of Paul Du Chaillu as he adventures into Africa to go after the near mythical gorilla, with alternating chapters featuring the dawn of the Natural History Museum, the evolution debate and Darwin's writing and publishing of 'The Origin of Species.' The book reads like some perfectly crafted, terribly exciting fictional tale; it's truly amazing just how exciting the dawn of modern science really was! (for an equally enthralling tale of discovery, try Francis Crick's What Mad Pursuit).
When I finish reading, I'll have to write a review post on the book overall, in the mean time however, I realize I haven't shared my photos from my visits to the Natural History Museum in London from this past summer. So lets finish out this post with all this pictures of taxidermied animals you could ever want to see (which aren't featured on the Bloggess).
The Museum exterior is beautiful, and covered with examples of flora and fauna. Fun point from Between Man and Beast, one wing is covered with (at the time) still living species and the other with extinct ones. This was an effort of the museum driving force Richard Owen to establish that there is no connection between extinct species and current ones, in an effort to discredit growing support for transmutation (which would become the theory of evolution).
The hall of dinosaurs was pretty cool, though it has nothing on the Royal Tyrrell Museum, right here in Alberta.
A photo montage of everyone's favourite extinct flightless bird, the dodo!
And finally, me with my main man (sorry Kevin) Darwin! (speaking of which the Darwin center recent addition at the Museum was a huge let down... although I suppose would be great for kids and lay audiences).
Public museums like this one, and ones all across the US and Canada are one of the most important things for disseminating science, and raising interest in our natural world. Best of all, admission is often free or inexpensive (usually in the form of a donation). I highly encourage you to find the nearest natural history museum or science center and spend a day (importantly you should not be in a rush, take the time to read the information presented with the specimens or displays) and explore your own world a little more. You never know in what way you might be inspired.
If you can't get out to a physical museum anytime soon, I highly, highly recommend you spend some youtube time with Emily of The Brain Scoop. As a volunteer at the U. of Montanna Zoological Museum, and now a feature of the Field Museum in Chicago, you get to go behind the scenes and discover first hand a little more about our natural world!